The Garretts and Their Circle: Annie Swynnerton’s ‘The Dreamer’

The Dreamer by Annie Swynnerton, 1887. (c) Manchester City Gallery - image courtesy of BBC Paintings and the Public Catalogue Foundation

The Dreamer by Annie Swynnerton, 1887. (c) Manchester City Gallery – image courtesy of BBC Paintings and the Public Catalogue Foundation

In yesterday’s post I drew attention to Annie Swynnerton’s portrait of Millicent Fawcett. It was hardly chance that brought that artist and that sitter together; both were central figures in what I term ‘the Garrett circle’.

Today’s painting by Annie Swynnerton, The Dreamer,  was originally owned by Millicent Fawcett’s sister-in-law, Louisa Garrett (nee Wilkinson) who for a while lived next-door-but-one to Millicent Fawcett and Agnes Garrett in Gower Street (the latter at no 2 and the Wilkinsons at no 6). The Dreamer was owned jointly by Louisa and her sister, Fanny, and may for a time have graced the walls of 6 Gower Street. Louisa only moved out of no 6 on her marriage to Millicent and Agnes’ youngest brother, George Garrett.

Fanny Wilkinson and Louisa Garrett did all in their power to ensure that, after their deaths, Annie Swynnerton was represented in public collections. In her will Louisa specifically left her share in this painting to Fanny and expressed ‘the desire that she will bequeath the said picture to the City Art Gallery, Manchester.’

Discover much more about the way in which the Garrett circle did their best to ensure Annie Swynnerton’s continuing reputation in my  Enterprising Women: the Garretts and their circle-  available online from Francis Boutle Publishers or from all good bookshops (in stock, for instance, at Foyles, Charing Cross Road).

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